Tracking a family who have recently moved into a house in which holds a deadly secret, Clive Barker's Hellraiser genuinely impressed me. Having only ever heard of the dregs of this soon-to-be 10 film spanning franchise (!), the original entry was both hilarious and genuinely frightening.
Barker's writing, as is apparently the norm, doesn't rise much further than its intriguingly morbid concept. The dialogue and acting it is attached to is often laughable, with useless characters and wasted moments peppering the brief run-time and leading to one of the weirder structures I can name that decade. Its clearly the result of a writer lazily trying to plug the gaps between crucial moments- but this weakness is totally overpowered by the strength of the man's direction.
Barker's visual movement through the camera and consistent use of silence creates an eerie, inviting mood which is constantly compelling and often leads to hugely unsettling moments that would be undermined without their build-up. I can only hope the man did not use long periods of silence just to add more meat to the run-time because as a stylistic device they work wonders in allowing the audience to become engrossed in his devilish horror story.
What makes Hellraiser such an essential watch, however, are its deliciously creepy images. A scene in which bones and little bits of brain-matter graft together into a living skeletal nightmare is on par with some sequences in even John Carpenter's The Thing in terms of stomach-churning special effects and many other petrifying moments let is rise above the 1982 classic.
Clive Barker's expert use of editing and movement, often having a horrible creature lurk at the corner of the frame for a brief moment before drifting away sets a physical discomfort in many moments. Coupled with deft direction of sound and effective assembly of gory images make Hellraiser one of the finer horror movies I can name. Stop putting this one off: Its well worth your time.